Law in Contemporary Society

When Will the Luck Run Out?

-- By KurtLyn - 25 Feb 2013

Our Fears and Expectations

In class, we spoke briefly about the expectations we set for ourselves as well as the fear and insecurity that comes with attempting to fulfill these expectations. We then spoke about the fear that, perhaps all the privileges and successes we have had up until now could crumble away at any point, that maybe now this is when it all goes away, that maybe it was only luck that brought us to this point. That, in a way, obtaining a firm job reaffirmed that the luck is still present and that we are continuing down the path were suppose to follow as Columbia Law students. I think that the decision for me to enter a firm is more complicated though, and will continue to get more complicated, than the simple theory that I will do so because it is what I am “suppose” to do, or I want the security that comes with it.

The Path to Law School

In truth, I cannot say I feel I deserve to be where I am because of all the hard work I did to get here. As was said in class and as I believe, most of us have never had to work that hard, relatively speaking. I have done, merely, what I was told to do or supposed to do, there were never any real forks in the road or hard choices to make. The path to law school was relatively straightforward from the moment I decided I wanted to be a lawyer; simply go to college, study and take this test, go to law school. Although, I had always thought about being a lawyer, I realize now it was rather generally and abstractly. I had been more fascinated by the idea of being a lawyer, saying that I was a lawyer, and never given much thought to what comes after I’ve met my goal of becoming a lawyer. So now, the question is do I continue on this linear path that has been neatly laid out, go out to a firm, attempt to make partner or leave and go in house somewhere, or do I break from this norm and do something different, what that thing is yet is hard to conceptualize because I have never been trained to think otherwise.

Lucky or Qualified?

My fear now is what we mentioned in class, that the luck that carried me so far is coming to an end. When I was applying to college and law school, I would think, just let me be fortunate enough to get in and then I will take over from there. And although I have always felt that I was up to the standards, at least intellectually, some part of me believed that it was this intangible luck that was responsible for my success. I think my conception of being lucky derived not from thinking I was not qualified, but thinking that there were so many people that are intelligent enough to do the same as me. So in applying to a firm, for me it is more of a matter of proving to myself that the luck has not run out, at least for now. But to say that this is me looking for some type of security would be wrong. By its definition, being “lucky” is an insecure state, one due to chance and fortunate circumstances. I feel that the purpose of “luck”, which I know to be simply the product of the work and influence of my family and mentors, has been to place me in position to transfer this luck to those I choose, whether that be my future children or the general community and society.

The Type of Lawyer

Initially, I thought the type of lawyer I wanted to become was one that no longer needed luck or thought of himself as lucky. We said in class, that the processes of applications, testing and interviewing were designed to make us feel that our successes were due to luck and fortune. And I know that these processes only continue throughout firm life as young associates struggle against each other for promotions and career progression. Yet, I don’t think we should ever try to separate ourselves from the idea that we are lucky or reason out why we shouldn’t feel lucky. I realize now, I was wrong in thinking that the luck would ever run out or stop or that I could separate myself from it, we feel lucky because we are. I could never remove the privileges and opportunities that so many others have not been afforded. And by constantly remembering I am lucky to have what I have and be where I am, I will have a moral reminder to make sure that I am actively providing opportunities for luck and sharing my fortune with others.

Having said that, then the lawyer I want to become is one that can provide opportunities and create luck for others. I still want to have a firm job and I would love to eventually become partner at that firm. Nor will I deny that desire is largely motivated by monetary and prestige incentives. But my hope is that feeling morally good and doing good are not directly at odds with working at a firm and the firm culture. I do fear that as a young, smart and lucky twenty-something, I could easily sacrifice a little of my morals for a bigger paycheck. Slowly over time, losing myself in firm culture and thought, instead of remaining the young and optimistic rising 2L who thought he would spread his luck to others. I think though, in acknowledging and recognizing this danger early as well as understanding the ultimate long-term moral, not necessarily career, goals I want, I have put myself in a strong position to prevent and control the danger. And for that, I have this class and the perspectives and ideas that flowed from it to thank.

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r7 - 14 Jan 2015 - 22:15:33 - IanSullivan
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